One area that is sometimes overlooked when patients and their doctors discuss pain reduction techniques is weight management. While embarking on a weight-reduction strategy is unlikely to provide immediate comfort, research suggests there is a clear link between carrying extra pounds and how much we hurt – and even small weight loss can assist.
It’s possible that your doctor has never addressed it to you because doctors are typically hesitant to discuss weight in the exam room, especially when the appointment is centred on a pain problem. Talking about body weight is a difficult matter, and doctors may avoid it out of concern of hurting a patient’s feelings or coming across as insensitive. When my patients bring up weight issues first, I know I feel more at ease discussing them. When a patient comes to you for help with their pain, starting a conversation about weight loss can give the impression that you are downplaying the severity of their pain problem, ignoring other relevant factors contributing to the pain, or somehow blaming them for having the problem, when none of these things are true. As a result, this can be a touchy subject. To get things started, a positive doctor-patient relationship with a high level of trust is generally required.
However, it’s an important discussion to have. Because being overweight can have a big impact on how we feel when we’re in pain. Increased mechanical forces on the body’s frame, such as the knee and hip joints, the spine, and supporting muscle groups, can lead to increased wear and tear. According to studies, losing one pound can relieve four pounds of pressure on the knees, and the more weight patients with arthritis lose, the better their pain alleviation and ability to perform daily activities. Extra weight, particularly around the abdomen, appears to exacerbate inflammation in vulnerable areas of the body, such as hurting joints.
It’s not only arthritis; illnesses like fibromyalgia, several bone and muscle disorders, and even migraines show pain relief and improved quality of life after losing weight. Being overweight has also been linked to carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as the development of persistent pain problems following injuries and car accidents. A study of 800 women indicated that dropping eleven pounds could cut the risk of developing arthritis in the knees in half.
If you’re struggling with your weight, I realise how discouraging hearing about the link between weight and pain can be. You’ve heard me mention that losing weight can help with pain, yet the discomfort could be one of the factors preventing you from losing weight! It’s a fact that reducing weight is difficult when you’re in pain. But it’s not out of the question. It could simply require a little more time, planning, and patience. Here are a few ideas I have for you:
Visualize yourself succeeding. Rather than focusing on the number on the scale, start visualising how you want your body to look and feel. Instead of comparing yourself to others or filtered photos of celebrities on social media, consider how you would like your greatest version of yourself to appear, not just in front of a mirror, but also when moving around and interacting with the world. Many successful athletes utilise visualisation as a technique for success because it helps their brains interact with their bodies more effectively when it’s time to compete. As you walk, keep that distinct image of yourself in the back of your mind.
Consult your doctor for advice. I’m sure I don’t need to inform you that weight loss is based on diet and lifestyle changes. It’s easy to say, but putting it into practise can be difficult. Consult your doctor for advice on how to make changes. Other specialists, such as dietitians and life coaches, may be brought in. They may advise you to seek bariatric surgery in some situations. Also, keep in mind that community and regional medical facilities may have particular weight-loss programmes and workshops.
Get assistance with exercising. Exercise might be difficult for people who are in pain. You might require the assistance of mobility professionals who have experience working with people who are in pain. Avoid falling into the trap of overdoing it in order to lose weight faster, as this will just aggravate your pain and set you back. As you strive to gradually increase the amount of activity you undertake, be careful with your body. Allow it the time it requires. I generally tell my patients that achieving weight reduction objectives is 75% based on good eating and just 25% based on exercise, so there’s no need to get too worked up about what you can’t achieve in the gym.
Celebrate small wins. I frequently advise my patients to break down their weight-loss objectives into smaller chunks, such as five pounds at a time. Recognize the wonderful influence that losing the first five pounds might have on how you feel. Recognize your victory! Then you can go on to the following five pounds to work on. Because results can take time no matter how you go about losing weight, you’ll need to be patient with the process. It’s tempting, but don’t fall into the trap of attempting to do too much too soon. Instead, use a step-by-step strategy. Your weight-loss strategy is an excellent long-term strategy for reducing pain. Before starting any new diet or weight-loss programme, see your doctor and ask them to work with you to achieve your goals. If your doctors – as well as friends and family – are encouraging you and holding you accountable to your goals, you’ll be more likely to succeed.
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